The year in patriarchy: a dancing PM, an ‘inclusive’ M&M, and lots of protests

2022 saw a stunning reverse on reproductive rights in the US but there were also victories for women – and the plain bizarre

The year in patriarchy 2022

Let’s start on a positive note, eh? Because there were a few victories. 2022 was a crummy year in many respects for women but it wasn’t all bad. In terms of reproductive rights, for example, Colombia decriminalized abortion and India’s supreme court extended access to abortion to unmarried women.

A lot of women also became heads of states which would have been a great thing had those women not had very regressive politics. In Hungary, Katalin Novák, a close ally of the truly terrible prime minister, Viktor Orbán, became the country’s first female president – not so much feminist pioneer as fascist puppet. Meanwhile, in Italy, far-right Giorgia Meloni was sworn in as the country’s first female prime minister. In terms of somewhat more positive “firsts”, Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first black woman to sit on the US supreme court.

Among the good and the bad there was a lot of inanity. Wife guys were declared “over” after a major wife guy scandal; Elon Musk (definitely not a wife guy) impregnated half the world; Pete Davidson kept up his reputation as the most eligible man in the heterosexual universe.

It’s been a long year. To help you look back, I’ve put together 12 memorable moments from the year in patriarchy.

1 The US supreme court ended the constitutional right to abortion

In June six unelected supreme court justices issued a decision that ended nearly 50 years of abortion rights in the US. Numerous Republican-led states had been preparing for Roe v Wade to be overturned with trigger laws immediately banning abortions in these states. Horror stories quickly followed. One of the worst: a 10-year-old rape victim had to travel to a different state to get a safe abortion. First, the right denied the story and then the Indiana state attorney general investigated the doctor who performed an abortion on the little girl. Among all the horror, however, there was some hope. Kansas put abortion rights to a vote and people in the conservative state overwhelmingly voted to protect abortion. A few months later voters came out to support reproductive rights in the midterm elections. The supreme court’s views on abortion, it became clear, do not match the average American’s.

2 Finland’s prime minister was made to apologize for dancing

Sanna Marin was also forced to take a drug test (she passed) by a bunch of people who were outraged that a young woman was having fun. As we all know the world’s male leaders are a pious lot who are completely scandal-free.

3 The Taliban drastically restricted women’s rights in Afghanistan

Women’s rights were a major justification for the US war in Afghanistan. It was pretty obvious that was all spin at the time but it’s still maddening to see how women in Afghanistan have been abandoned by their supposed saviours. What on earth were those two decades of war for? The Taliban spent 2022 doing their best to erase women from public life and keep them captive in their homes. Afghan women have been banned from higher education and most teenage girls have been banned from secondary school education.

4 Andrew Tate was publicly humiliated by Greta Thunberg

Dubbed the “king of toxic masculinity”, Tate is a violent misogynist with millions of followers. The kickboxer turned influencer’s TikTok videos have been watched billions of times and he has reportedly helped to radicalize a lot of young, resentful men. Just as 2022 was about to end, Tate, 35, was catapulted to new heights of fame when he tried to troll Thunberg, 19, about his enormous emissions. She very succinctly put him in his place. The Romanian police then added to his humiliation by raiding Tate’s villa in Romania and detaining him on organised crime and rape charges.

5 The green M&M character swapped her heels for sensible shoes

This was to promote “inclusivity” or something like that. Rightwing commentators lost their minds, as they always do, while the rest of us said “erm … what? Did we really ask for this?” Still it represented a small win for fem&minism. (Yes I’ve made that joke before, but in honour of Greta Thunberg I’m doing some recycling.)

6 Russians were accused of using rape as a ‘military strategy’ in Ukraine

As war correspondent Christina Lamb has written, rape is “the cheapest weapon known to man”. Sexual assault has long been a weapon of war and the invasion of Ukraine is, tragically, no exception. In June Ukraine held a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with rape, the first of what will presumably be many cases.

7 There were historic women-led protests across Iran

There have been widespread protests across Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini back in September. The protests were met with violence and death sentences: at least 100 Iranians arrested during the protests face charges punishable by death. Iran has now been booted off the UN commission on the status of women for obvious reasons.

8 Prince Andrew settled a Jeffrey Epstein-related sexual assault case in the US

But let’s not talk about that, eh? The fact that the Duke of York paid off a woman who accused him of sexual assault isn’t the real scandal here. The fact that one of the most senior members of the royal family was palling around with Epstein isn’t the real scandal here. The real scandal, as we well know, is Meghan Markle’s very existence!

9 Shireen Abu Akleh was killed and nobody has faced any consequences for it

The iconic Palestinian-American journalist was killed by what the UN described as a “seemingly well-aimed” bullet fired by Israeli forces in May. The Biden administration announced there would be an “inquiry” into the matter but absolutely nothing has happened.

10 The world was glued to the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial

The televised trial was described as an “orgy of misogyny”. It wasn’t just about Depp and Heard, it was about how online propaganda works; it was about victim-blaming; it was about what it takes for a woman to be believed; it was about what happens when women speak up.

11 France went berserk over burkinis

France’s highest administrative court, which presumably has quite a lot on its plate, spent a portion of the summer deliberating on acceptable swimwear for women.

12 Ivanka Trump turned on her father and shunned politics

Only a few years ago Ivanka reportedly wanted to be the first female US president. In 2022, however, she tried to get as far away from politics as possible and distance herself from her dad. She spent much of the year hiding out at the beach. While that sounds lovely, the world of Superficial Self-Serving Women’s Empowerment has lost a real icon.

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Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

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